When Virgin America asked us to road-test luggage, we followed their lead and looked for bags that not only look good but offer some well-designed practicality too. Saving space in both closets and luggage, low-bulk bags tuck neatly away when not in use and easily unfurl for weekend getaways or to bring back souvenirs. Some pack into their own included pouch while others require your own folding ingenuity, but all the finds below promise to get you and your stuff from here to there with minimum fuss and maximum style.
Extra Small Aviator Bag
Although Red Oxx claims this bag is small, its size is deceptive thanks to a deconstructed design that skips pockets and other features to leave plenty of room for stuff. Made in Montana of sturdy material and with reinforced pressure points, a heavy-duty zipper unzips all the way around allowing it to lie nearly flat. Get it from Red Oxx for $30.
Tote in a Pouch
This nylon bag, in a neutral khaki that goes with anything, folds down and stores in the adorable small pouch provided. It's affordable too at $38, and available from the MoMA Store.
Lightweight Travel Duffel
Patagonia's medium-sized version of the packable bag manages to squeeze in extra features including a side pocket with an internal key clip and handles that convert to pack straps. Recently updated with a new super lightweight, double-ripstop nylon in either a yellow-mustard combo or a brilliant turquoise, the duffel stuffs into its own storage pocket. Check the Patagonia site next month when it will be available for $70.
It doesn't get more straightforward than the StowAway Bag, which comes in a zipped pouch and unfolds into a large and lightweight duffel. Made out of water-resistant nylon, it comes in a variety of colors and StowAway donates all profits to charity. Pick one up from Flight001 for $24.
For a classic option, Eagle Creek's Packable Duffel zips into a built-in circular pouch. You can hand carry it with two smaller handles or use the larger strap for over the shoulder toting. It sells on Eagle Creek's site for $28.
Week Overnight Bag
From Jack Gomme's "Light" collection, the Week Overnight Bag includes an interior zippered pocket with a detachable zippered pouch. Handles on the outside adjust and their coated fabric is not only very resistant to the elements but acquires an attractive patina with wear. Flight001 has it for $180.
Marc by Marc Jacobs does the classic duffel shape in a red print for a basic bag that's anything but boring. Made from nylon and featuring an interior key loop and velcro pocket, look out for it this spring at Marc by Marc retailers and online for $88.